Continuous Improvement

"Expeditors team understands our company ethos to focus on continuous improvement and applies the principles of lean logistics as integrated into their business. " 

Doug Vos 

Senior Manager of Transportation

Toyota Motors




Our business partnership with Toyota has grown tremendously since its inception in 1990. We started as Toyota's customs broker for shipments arriving from Japan into the U.S., a longstanding relationship that has developed into what it is today. We now provide Toyota with a full suite of logistics and consulting services across North America and on a global scale. 

Learn more about our Auto Mobility solutions

The Opportunity: Toyota Production System and Kaizen 

The Toyota Production System (TPS) follows the philosophy of making only “what is needed, when it is needed, and in the amount needed.” TPS is based on two concepts:

  • Jidoka, or “intelligent automation”, meaning that when a problem occurs, the process stops immediately to prevent any defective products from being produced.
  • Just-in-Time occurs when each process produces only what is needed by the next process in a continuous flow so that there is no disruption.

Toyota has a strong business partner philosophy, believing that through quality improvement driven by active engagement with current business partners, the continuous improvement, or kaizen, will positively improve cost and processes. 


Integration of Kaizen and Expeditors Business Practices

In support of this Japanese philosophy, we participated in Toyota's annual Kaizen Challenge where our teams worked with kaizen coaches to review and enhance the current business activities that we provide to Toyota. Both parties benefit from this relationship, as each is able to learn from the other's improvement. 

The fundamentals of Expeditors’ approach to process management are to understand, manage, measure, and improve. Within these four fundamentals, we incorporate many of the same elements found in kaizen as well as elements within Lean, Six, Sigma, TQM, and other quality methodologies. 



Our Solution: Efficient Processes 

In line with the concept of kaizen, we incorporated the process for managing unplanned transportation, including critical shipments that require an immediate response to mitigate any delay in part arrival in plants and dealers. The process review considered the enhancement of automating the communication steps: request, log, quote, approve, schedule, and monitoring of all shipments.

Rather than relying solely on email communication, which is prone to error and delay, the improvement considered the effectiveness of providing direct system access. This streamlined supply chain process enabled the Critical Logistics Management team to manage Toyota’s time-definite parts in real-time 24/7/365.

The Results

With the elimination of manual data, the critical expedites were successfully logged and scheduled within a 60-minute window. This resulted in an on-time performance of + 95% for critical parts to relieve vehicles being held back from dealer delivery for accessory installation. The outcome of the streamlined process ensures that Toyota and their dealers were able to fully meet the delivery timescales and commitment to their customers.

Our teams understood that through the successful partnership with Toyota, the outcome of a kaizen workshop and methodology ultimately improves visibility, control, and reduces the cost for all parties in the supply chain. 

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